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Friday, May 6, 2016

Maloka - You Say Oka, I Say Maloka

I've got another good one for you, just don't ask me what it's name is.  The card says 'Maloka,' the bill says 'Maloka,' the website says "Maloka' and 'Oka' and the facade used to read 'Oka' but now shows 'Maloka.'  The server said 'Maloka.'  I'm going with 'Maloka.'  Maloka used to be Oka, okay?  Oka will soon be Oka again, but in another location (rue Berthollet in the 5th, starting next September), as a higher priced gastronomic Franco-Brasilian establishment (80 euros per person for 20 small tasting dishes).  Until then, you'll have to settle for (and continue to do so since it's not going away according to our server) the
'alma Brasileira' on rue de la Tour d'Auvergne in the 9th (36 euro menu for five courses).

The old facade
If you have followed the evolution of Daniel Rose's now famous Spring restaurant, you probably know that Maloka is situated at Spring's birthplace before the latter outgrew its success and moved to a roomier locale.  I never did get to Spring in those early years, but I did have a deja vu experience as I sat at our corner front table in Maloka.  Yes, I've been here before.  Indeed, it's a small world (but, in the words of the immortal Stephen Wright, I wouldn't want to paint it).  For about five minutes in early 2012, the setting used to house the mediocre La Vitrine, which Co. and I did visit.  I didn't care much for La Vitrine, but I really like Maloka, and I hope it doesn't disappear once Oka the sequel takes off.

As I've already sort of suggested, this is another one of those small 16-seater Paris restaurants that we all have come to love, if we ever are lucky enough to reserve in time - several prospective patrons were turned away at the door of Maloka during our Friday evening dinner which, because of a second serving, commenced at the ungodly early hour of 7 pm.  True, I remember eating dinner at 5 pm when I lived in the States (and then a post-dinner dinner when I was starving around 10 pm), but by European standards, 7 pm is pretty early.  On the other hand, the earlier hour meant we weren't rushed to finish to make way for the second service (a lousy policy that in the past ruined a perfectly excellent dinner at La Servan and a recent meal at Hero) .  Maloka is that kind of place - genial servers, good atmosphere, and as far as the food goes, some nice original flavors and ingredients.  This isn't a Brazilian restaurant per se - instead, carico chef Raphaël Rego infuses French dishes with Brazilian accents, such as guava, corn cream sauce, palm heart emulsion, verbana jus, cilantro, and feijao (puréed black beans). Not exactly your typical Parisian.

Here's what mine and Co's dishes looked like for our visit, offerings which are sure to change nightly according to chef Rego's inspiration:

A great start with four amuses bouche, topped off with a delicate pure sugar cane wafer

A rich coconut emulsion

This ceviche and wild flowers is a good example of the Delboeuf illusion in practice

Maigre fish, emulsion, and puree of patate douce

More fish for me as a meat alternative - cabillaud and black bean puree

Co's copious beef dish - definitely not an example of Delbouef

Stupendous dessert with fresh basilic

Whatever you call the restaurant - it's not Spring, it's not La Vitrine, and it's no longer Oka, this was a terrific meal for 36 euros per person plus another 36 euros for a bottle of a Brazilian cabernet (Aurora Reserva).


28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne
75009 Paris
useless website, don't bother
tel. 01 45 23 99 13
closed Sunday & Monday; open for lunch on Saturday

seen on the way to Maloka

still on the way to Maloka

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Le Galopin - 2 for 2

No sense rehashing my review from January.  Another visit last night and I can simply leave it at 'ditto.'  Me and Co., two for two - two great meals at Le Galopin.  Doesn't sound like much, but the maquereau, feve, and pamplemousse was awesome.

This would be the fixed menu - click and it gets a lot bigger.


Make that 3 for 3 - with Moose in tow for an early May, 
mid-week dinner, this may have been the best yet.  Here are shots of 
three of the dishes:


asperges et saint-pierre 


Monday, April 11, 2016

Anthocyane - Coulda Been A Contender

Following his visit back in early February, Paris restaurant blogger John Talbott concluded that the new restaurant Anthocyane in the 14th was 'not yet ready for prime time.  Give 'em a month or two.'  Co. and I did just that, only to discover that Anthocyane still isn't ready for prime time.  Talbott's assessment was based on menu items not available as soon as the restaurant opened for the day, a server who rattled off the dishes without interest in the customer's cognitive processing of said dishes, and other asundry 'kinks' in the service.  And my assessment - drum roll, please:  'ditto.'

It's a handsome restaurant with a tongue twister of an incomprehensible name - after all, wouldn't you want a name for your restaurant that people are actually going to remember?  (Okay, so maybe it does refer to a kind of red cabbage dye, so what?)   We were seated in the main room, within view of the kitchen, but not really positioned to see what was going on in the kitchen.  An open/closed kitchen?  Right off the bat, the owner took my coat, turned it upside down, and watched as my sunglasses fell out of the pocket. It was going to be that kind of evening. The aforementioned server was impossible to follow; maybe another robot could have grasped whatever he was babbling about the dishes, but he didn't appear to get the idea after I asked several times for him to repeat his remarks.

This is the room in the back where they (apparently) stick the noisier customers

The 59 euro menu degustation started off with two very nice amuse bouches.  I quickly gobbled down a rather unique brown tortilla chip and was about to dip into the two accompaniments when I noticed that Co. hadn't eaten a bite and bore perplexed look on her face - the look that says, 'I prefer wine when I eat.'  In fact, I had to ask a second time for the delivery of the bottle, the server apparently not capable of processing such a challenging request, thereby leaving it up to the owner, whom Co. suggested bore a resemblance to actor Oscar Isaac, for what it's worth.  Our 29 euro bottle of Bourgueil les Vingts Lieux Dits arrived and the consumption process (re)commenced.  At least at the start, I again had to agree with Talbott, who claimed that once the food started appearing on the table, those service-related peccadilloes began to fade.

Amuse bouche 1

Amuse bouche 2 - a creamy betterave concoction

The meal got off to a serious start with (apparently) one of Anthocyane's signature dishes, a poulpe croustillant preparation, which really looked great, but was underwhelming in terms of taste.  I really wanted to like this,because I really like poulpe, but there was nothing of  interest to pique the taste buds.

Next up was a scallop and potatoes serving.  I thought the rounded potatoes were kind of interesting, but the scallops weren't nearly as succulent as the ones I recently reported on at Prosper et Fortunee.

By the way, here's a little test for you:  can you identify what these first two dishes have in common?

Answer:  both dishes included a couple caper berries (at least I think that's what they are called).  This is an unusual - and very tasty - ingredient that I rarely see served in a French restaurant, yet - my god, what a coincidence - they appeared in two dishes IN A ROW at Anthocyane.  What this tells me is that chef Andrea Franceschi is pretty fond of those babies and will throw them into any dish, well, just because.

Find the berry in the two dishes above and maybe Anthocyane is your kind of place

Whatever love for Anthocyane that had entered our hearts at this point in the festivities essentially flew out the window with the next course.  I had earlier explained to the server that I do not eat lamb - a rather straightforward admission that the server initially had difficulty comprehending for whatever unfathomable reason - whereas Co. clearly revealed that lamb is one of her favorites.  So when it came time - now - for the lamb dish, both of us were served the fish alternative, and we were informed that 'if one customer has a dietary restriction, the rest of the table must suffer for it.'  This is where I decided that chef Franceschi was more emotionally challenged than Bradley Cooper's character in Burnt.  With the refusal to provide Co. with her eagerly anticipated lamb dish, I swear I thought I began to see smoke beginning to rise from her head.  Apparently, owner Jean-Paul da Costa recognized that he had a near crisis on his hands - Co. was seriously contemplating storming out - and returned to our table to inform Co. that, after all, it was not a problem and she could have the lamb dish.  Ha ha ha, just kidding bro!  Ta da!  And so it went.  Co. really enjoyed the lamb, and I was content with the fish, although I can't say we all lived happily ever after.

Is it lamb or is it fish?

Is it fish or is lamb?  And where's my caper berry, damn it?

When I related the story about the lamb to an American friend, he suggested that he often encountered that problem at restaurants in the U.S. ever since his wife went vegetarian.  Fair enough, but I have never, ever, in my many years of dining in Paris, experienced such a closed-minded policy.  So there.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the dessert duo, a palette cleansing fruit dish followed by a chocolate, chocolate, chocolate sort of souflfle, the latter overly rich for my pardner but sinfully decadent enough for yours truly.

Bringing the evening's entertainment to a rousing finish, a plate of patisseries, and if you've been reading my other reviews, you know how a free plate of these babies at the end of a meal just makes me positively giddy.

Perhaps one day Anthocyane will indeed be a contender (for a Michelin star, that is), but it has a long way to go.  Co. was impressed by their unique looking spoons, just so I don't forget.  Two menu degustations, a bottle of wine, and one espresso brought the bill to 152 euros.  Anthocyane - still not ready for prime time.

63, rue Daguerre
75014 Paris
tel: 01 43 27 86 02
Closed Sunday and Monday

Monsieur da Costa (foreground) doesn't look like Oscar Isaac if you ask me, but Co. begs to differ

Window graffito on rue Daguerre

Friday, March 25, 2016

Prosper et Fortunée- One Man Show

Prosper et Fortunée's Eric Lévy does it all - takes reservations by phone - and offers a detailed explanation about the restaurant's concept in the process - shops the local markets in the morning, seats customers, cooks the food, serves it, prepares the bill, and takes the payment.  Okay, I lied, he does have an assistant who, like clockwork, shows up just around the time that the 12 customers are finishing up their dessert to unobtrusively begin to clean up the kitchen.   I hesitated writing about my visit with Co. in tow for a late February dinner, because P&F is tough to review.  It's like going to your aunt's house for dinner and watching her slave away in the kitchen preparing dishes in heartfelt earnest to please her loved ones in the next room.  Even if the meal was mediocre, you don't want to hurt her feelings and so you tell her the meat loaf and mashed potatoes were the best you've ever tasted in your life.

The inimitable Monsieur Levy, a one-man band
Or not.  Unlike the nervous, obsequious aunt, Monsieur Levy carries out his evening's work with an air of inspired, workmanlike confidence.  And despite the unavoidable intimacy of P&F, it's not like you are yukking it up with fellow diners in the small one-room-kitchen restaurant-atelier, although I'm sure that happens depending on the dynamic of the evening. I had no compelling interest in talking with anyone but lovely Co. during our visit, albeit discussion with Monsieur Lévy proved the exception.

It took a while after our 8:30 pm arrival before the remaining diners showed up and M. Lévy began slicing and dicing the ingredients so that the several course affair could get rolling.  The preparation and servings were methodical, with each course being served to each diner in turn, seated at a handful of high tables.  If you are in a hurry and in need of a quick dinner, P&F is not the place to be - it was after midnight by the time we paid up and donned our coats.

If it seems like I'm stalling to avoid talking about the food, you are an astute reader.  Bear in mind, I'm stalling about the dishes because in procrastinating, I've forgotten their descriptions.  The ingredients were fresh and tantalizing, okay, satisfied?  Hey, its been a tough month with the world coming apart at the seams, and maybe you can forgive my memory lapses - I can't find my P&F receipt or visitation card, and all I have to rely on are a bunch of blurry photos, including those below (in order of their serving).  By the way, I have finally - FINALLY - purchased a decent camera, and once I figure out how to use it, which hopefully will require less time than it is taking for me to master the French language, you should start seeing some really beautiful, amazing, fantastic food photos at this site.  (Disclaimer - the first three photos above are not mine).

An excellent fish soup to start off the evening

Risotto with a scallop on top

This, I believe, is cabillaud

Co. says thumbs up for the lamb

And for me, the non-eater of lamb, some of the tastiest scallops I've ever eaten

Dessert 1 - not really the apple of my eye, but Co. wasn't complaining

Dessert 2 - much better, and much more interesting than it looks (I vaguely remember mention of almonds and yogurt

When it comes to wine at P&F you take what you're offered from a couple of choices - this Graves did not disappoint, at all

Eschewing end of meal espressos, our bill came to a reasonable €124 for the six-course meal and bottle, certainly reasonable for an unforgettable experience.  I have no great urge to do it again, but a dinner at Prosper et Fortunée is one of those 'you've got to try it once' sorts of deals.

Prosper et Fortunée
50, rue Broca
Paris 5
 Tel: : +33 1 43 37 70 39
Metro: Les Gobelins, Censier - Daubenton
The restaurant sits unobrusively on a quiet Parisian street - one day you will have nostalgia for these blurry images (soon, I hope)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jones - Dem Bones, Dem Jones

Me and the Moose out on the town
again, checking out the latest hotspot - we are so trendy - BUT, really an old hotspot.  What?  Come on, you probably already know that an old Paris Restaurants and BEYOND favorite, Bones, is no longer -BUT, has been transformed by the same team into an all-day cafe in the morning, lunch specials in the afternoon, and amazing tapas in the evening kind of place.  I miss dem Bones, dem Bones, but Jones represents a satisfying alternative, a LOT better than nothing.

Moose and I (if you prefer) hit Jones on a good night - the place wasn't packed and the vibe was mellow and laid back.  Our servers tried their hardest to convince us that the tapas were to be shared, but I would have none of that because that's the kind of guy I am.  Mine, mine, mine.  But I'm not THAT horrible - I did offer Moose an ample sampling of my copious smoked mozzarella focaccia dish, but he politely declined.  Other standouts during our visit included the chinchard dish - a mackerel-like fish prepared almost like a ceviche, the moules au gratin, and the rabbit dish.  Moose still doesn't get the concept of "you're in France, dessert is not an option, it is a requirement,' so it was only yours truly who got to benefit from the exquisite (I love that word) chocolate ganache.  Everything savory, flavorful, fresh, interesting.

We finished up with some after-dinner drinks to wash down the bottle of red, Moose opting for another Agent Provocateur and me following the server's advice to check out a cognac that had just come in and it was epic, and I'm usually not a big cognac drinker.  Stupid me, I forgot the name.  At any rate, I didn't forget to snap the carte, so this is what the reasonably-priced, nicely-sized tapas dishes included during the evening of our visit:

Click to enlarge

Finally, there are two ways to look at the Jones carte de visite - as a witty, retro attempt at humor or as a 'we're too cheap to print up new cards until we use up all the old ones' ploy.  You decide:

B becomes J, sort of.

All told, 6 tapas dishes, a €28 bottle of wine, 2 beers, one cognac, and one espresso came to a total of €106, a pretty good deal if I say so myself.

43 rue Godefroy Cavaignac
Paris 11

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Paris Restaurants and Beyond - Search, Baby, Search

Back in 2014, the people who manage Google's Blogger web publishing tool, of which PRAB is a part, decided to eliminate what I thought was a really nice user-friendly feature - the ability to link the reviewed restaurants listed in the column on the right to their respective reviews.  That is no longer possible.  It took me long enough, I know, but now all you have to do is use the new feature on the top and search for any restaurant in the list.  There are still a large number of reviewed restaurants that you just have to click on to go to the review, but anything I've published since about mid-2014 is a no-go . . . unless you search.  You know how to search, now you can do it here.

There's the search box, right under the blog name, where it can't be missed.

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